The Catalan regional parliament has formally pardoned hundreds of women who were executed for “witchcraft” between the 15th and 18th centuries.
MPs in the automonous Spanish region of Catalunia approved a resolution last week that rehabilitates the memory of more than 700 women who were “tried, tortured and executed”.
The measure was approved by a large majority of 114 MPs with just 14 against and six abstentions.
The move was pushed by pro-independence and left-wing MPs, who said that the women were “victims of misogynistic persecution” and have even called for some of Catalonia’s streets to be named after the persecuted “witches”.
Like in all European societies, witches were feared and persecuted, and Spain was no different. They were blamed for all manner of ills including the sudden death of children and poor harvests – both of which were very common throughout the medieval period.
The edicts against the witches date back to the late 15th century and Catalonia was also one of the first areas in Europe where anti-witchcraft acts were introduced in 1471.
Historians calculate that at least 50,000 people ( some 80% women) were condemned to death for witchcraft between 1580 and 1630.
More than 100 European historians recently signed a manifesto entitled “They weren’t witches, they were women”.
The most infamous of witchhunts in Spain took place in 1609 when 7,000 people, including thousands of children, were accused of witchcraft in a mass trial in Logroño, conducted by the Spanish Inquisition and 20 people executed.
Picture Credit: Mallory Johndrow